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Finally, HTC Decides to Focus More on Branding - Unveils the "One" Strategy

February 26, 2012
HTC 1 concept - Designed by Andrew Kim

I’m sure HTC fans will remember this image. It’s the HTC 1 concept made a designer called Andrew Kim, who was obviously a big fan of HTC at the time, too. It got picked up by some major blogs, and became quite popular because it was a very interesting design compared to what was on the market in early 2010. It still does appeal, I believe, although it’s made a little outdated by its thickness. Even HTC doesn’t make phones that thick anymore, even though they’ve been lagging behind others in the past, when it comes to device thinness.

Where to now, HTC? 

HTC’s new strategy immediately made me think of this design, because I realized the HTC executives might have gotten the idea for the new brand name from this concept design. But, this is really not what’s important here. What’s important is that HTC is finally trying to have a more coherent brand strategy going into 2012, after neglecting this aspect of their business for many years.

Ever since 2010, when HTC started attacking the smartphone market with the Snapdragon phones, I realized that HTC tends to give every phone a different name. That’s not a bad thing per se. It’s only bad when you make so called “sequels” of a device, that barely qualify as a sequel. Take the Incredible and the Incredible 2 for example. The Incredible 2 was not a next-generation device. Sure, it had a slightly improved processor, because it was made on a smaller processing node (45 nm), putting it in line with the Hummingbird. But, other than that, the only thing that was improved was the camera. I think that hardly qualifies for a “2” in its name, and it just shows that they were abusing the brand name of that device to make a new sale.

This is one aspect of their brand strategy I never cared for. Another strategy they employed was jumping from name to name without focusing on one. They have launched so many phones with different names that I won’t even bother to enumerate all right now. The bad part here, again, is not that they had different names, but that they launched so many of them, which was mistake #1, and that they gave them random names, with no coherence between them, which was mistake #2.

But it seems, in 2012, all this is about to change with HTC trying to follow a more unified brand strategy. This strategy is essentially what Samsung tried in 2011 with the Galaxy S, R, W and Y. So, HTC will have the One X, S and V – at least for now. What HTC needs to do in 2012 to be successful, other than using the latest and best technologies, of course, is to use this “One” brand name very wisely, and categorize the phones properly.

I’d also like them to not use the One name on every single phone they put out there, because if you name 100 models “One”, eventually the One branding just becomes pointless, and you might as well take it out. The issue with putting everything under the same brand name is that you’re not only naming the very best phones as such, but also the very worst/most low-end/ the same. That can negatively impact the name, and make it less important and popular for the flagship devices.

The unifying of the phone brands under the “One” brand means absolutely nothing if they have to use the whole alphabet for all the phones they release, if they use the same strategy as in 2011. They need to focus more on a handful of devices, and market them very well, rather than throw devices at the market, and discard them after a few months on the shelf. If they keep doing that, the customers will treat their phones the same way (as unimportant and unexciting) and will pick a competitor’s device instead.